Visit the Course Catalog for the official course description and listing

BIOL 101, 102 General Biology

An introduction to the scientific study of life and basic biological principles. Emphasis is on the properties of living systems, their variety, their relationships in space and time to each other, evolution and the environment. Lecture/ laboratory. Course 101 is not a prerequisite for 102.

BIOL 110 Edible Ethics

In this Science Technology in Social Context (STSC) course, we will explore interactions between agricultural production, environmental quality, and human well-being. In addition to covering the science, technology, and ecology of food production, we will also discuss many important philosophical and ethical issues relating to food production and consumption such as pesticide usage, genetically modified food, animal welfare, and veganism. This course will enable identification of value conflicts and provide a framework for discussing them. [W, V, STSC]

BIOL 202 Data: The Good, The Bad, and the Misleading

In this course, students will learn about common types of miscommunication and misunderstandings associated with visual representation of data and about best practices for data visualization. Through a series of case studies, students will critically evaluate relevant data, the format of its presentation, and the impact the method of presentation has on the reader. Specifically, through critical analysis of the format of the graphs, figures, and tables students will determine whether the chosen methods enable straightforward, independent analysis or push the reader to accept the author’s conclusions. Students will reformat the presentation of the data to determine whether other representations would reveal / support different conclusions. In a final project, students will use and build up on previous knowledge to analyze data to related to a global, national, or policy decision. [STSC]
Prerequisite: Any 100-level lab-based course in the natural sciences.

BIOL 212 Developmental Biology

A study of the process of development at the cellular molecular level as a description of the stages through which an organism gains complexity. The laboratory features living vertebrate, invertebrate and plant examples of the processes discussed in lecture, as well as a student-designed research project.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 or NEUR 201 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 213 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy

This course explores the structure and function of vertebrate animals. Emphasis is placed on the form/function relationship, the evolution of anatomical specialization, and the comparative method. Lecture/laboratory/independent laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 214 Neuroanatomy

An in-depth exploration of the vertebrate nervous system with emphasis on mammals and humans. Lectures detail the structure and function of the brain and spinal cord. The laboratory includes dissection, examination of prepared slides and other materials, and work with computer resources. In the experiential portion of the course, students use classical anatomical and modern molecular techniques to study the brain.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101, and BIOL 102 or NEUR 201.

BIOL 215 Phytopathology

BIOL 215 is designed to introduce you to plant pathology, the discipline that studies the biology of plant diseases, and the fundamental aspects underlying the biology of plant diseases caused by infectious organisms.  In this course, we will discuss the concept of plant disease and the biological nature of its causal agents, the mechanisms employed by plant pathogens to successfully colonize the host, the methods utilized by the plant to defend itself against pathogen attack, and the societal cost of plant diseases. [W]
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102.

BIOL 224 Plant Form, Function, and Adaptation

This course will cover the general structure and organization of the plant body and the varied architectural alternatives that plants have evolved with respect to both form and function of growth and reproduction in each of the major terrestrial and aquatic biomes. The course is comprised of lectures, discussions, laboratories, guided and independent investigations, presentations, and field trips. Lecture and laboratory are integrated in the time allotted for this class.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 225 Microbiology

The biology of microorganisms, emphasizing prokaryotic structure, growth and cultivation, metabolism, genetics and gene regulation. Lecture topics include bacteria-to-bacteria signaling, biofilms, secretion, microbial diversity, and bacteriophage biology. Lectures are supplemented with readings from the primary literature. Laboratory exercises demonstrate principles covered in lecture and instruct students on research techniques. [W]
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102.

BIOL 231 Ecology

A study of the relationships between organisms and their environment emphasizing basic ecological principles and methods. Laboratory and field exercises illustrate the theoretical concepts discussed in lecture and are writing-intensive. Lecture/discussion/laboratory. [W]
Prerequisite: BIOL 102 or permission of Instructor; 101 is highly recommended.

BIOL 233 Environmental Problem Solving in Biology

This course explores environmental issues using an applied ecology perspective. It emphasizes biological dynamics of human populations and our impact on local, regional and global ecosystems. Topics are multidisciplinary and problem-based learning is emphasized with biological approaches. We review ecological principles in human ecosystems, then explore topics such as environmental public health, ecological risk assessment, exposure to toxicants in the environment, wildlife regulation and management and technology’s role in finding solutions to food production.
Prerequisite: BIOL 102 or permission of instructor; BIOL 101 is highly recommended.

BIOL 234 Environmental Biology

While recognizing the interrelatedness among different areas of environmental science, this course focuses on how biological and ecological applications relate to environmental issues. Emphasis is on how the human population impacts ecosystem function, giving attention both to population regulation mechanisms and to disruption/conservation of ecosystem processes. Laboratory exercises focus on classical applied ecology as well as field excursions targeting policy and management issues. Satisfies core component of Environmental Science minor. Lecture/laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 102 or permission of instructor; 101 is highly recommended.

BIOL 235 Evolutionary Biology

An introduction to the principles of organic and molecular evolution. Topics include: genetic variation, natural selection, speciation, adaptation, diversification, biogeography, molecular evolution, and the mechanisms underlying each. Laboratory includes experimentation, computer simulation, and relevant reading/presentation of current primary literature in the field. Lecture/discussion/laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101 or 102, both preferred.

BIOL 245 Immunology

This course examines the immune system at the cellular and molecular level. After examining the basic architecture of the immune system, the course explores the specificity that allows your body to recognize and respond against a virtual unlimited number of potential pathogens. Additionally, the course investigates the development of vaccines and the inappropriate immune responses that lead to allergies and autoimmune disease. Lecture/laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102.

BIOL 251 Human Physiology

This course uses a systems approach to human physiology. The functions of the major human organ systems and the physiological mechanisms by which these functions are controlled are considered. Lecture/laboratory
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 255 Molecular Genetics

This course focuses on the study of the hereditary principles that govern cellular processes, organismal development, biological diversity, and the evolutionary changes in populations. The goal of this course is to provide an in-depth understanding of these principles, from both Mendelian and molecular perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of the experimental work that, over the years, has led to the current status of the discipline of Genetics. By identifying and discussing the most important aspects of a particular experiment (why it was conducted; which results were obtained), students are expected to establish the link between a concept and the scientific research supporting it. In the laboratory component of this course, model organisms will be utilized to help students become familiar with current methods of genetic analysis.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101; CHEM 121-122.

BIOL 256 Neurobiology

This course examines the field of neuroscience from a cellular and molecular perspective, with the neuron and neural networks as the focus of discussion and experimentation. After an intensive look at neuronal cell biology and signaling, the course examines the cellular basis of higher-order functions, such as sensation, behavior, and memory. Lecture/discussion/laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101 and NEUR 201.

BIOL 270 Special Topics

Depending upon student and staff interests, one or more specialized areas of biology may be offered.  For spring 2018 only: BIOL 270-BIOSTATISTICS.  This course provides students with a comprehensive overview of probability and statistics in biological research.  Discussion of statistical ideas rather than mathematical derivation is the focus of this course.  Students will learn how to design experiments, how to collect data, how to analyze data, and how to present results in graphical formats. Throughout the course, students will use basic to intermediate level of R programming to learn the above topics and to complete a group project.  No programming experience is required for this course
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 and one semester of college-level calculus.

BIOL 272 Conservation Biology

This course provides students with an introduction to the scientific basis of modern conservation biology and the application of these principles to conservations problems around the world.To understand the complexities involved in making conservation decisions, we will read from many sources,have class and small group discussions, and engage in debate. The objective of the laboratory portion of this course is to provide students with practical, problem-solving experiences in conservation biology beyond the classroom. Lecture/laboratory. [W]
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 274 Bioinformatics

This course provides a comprehensive overview of bioinformatics – the application of computational and information sciences in studying biology. It emphasizes the learning of real-world computational tools and databases used by biologists in conducting research. Major topics include DNA/RNA/Protein sequence analysis, genome annotation, protein visualization, molecular phylogeny, and system biology. Basic understanding of statistics is preferable but not mandatory. No prior computer programming knowledge is required and no computer programming will be taught in this course.
Prerequisite: None.

BIOL 275 Behavioral Ecology

This course explores both the proximate causal mechanisms (e.g., hormone levels, developmental conditions) and ultimate consequences (e.g., effects on survival or reproduction) of animal behaviors as they relate to navigating a complex and ever-changing environment. Topics include predator-prey interactions, relationships between habitat and optimal foraging strategies, sexual selection, navigation within physically variable environments, and a wide variety of social interactions. Laboratory involves both indoor and outdoor observations and experiments.
Prerequisite: BIOL 102 or permission of instructor; BIOLl 231 is recommended.

BIOL 279 Quantitative Biology

This course provides an introduction of quantitative reasoning to biology students. Topics include data organization, experimental design, statistical inference, data visualization, bioinformatics, modeling and simulation. All content will be illustrated by biological examples and data sets. Learning how to use the statistical software package R is a key component of the course.
Prerequisite: None.

BIOL 310 Aging and Age-Related Diseases

In this course, we will study aging as a developmental process defined by changes in the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry of the brain as well as age-associated changes in behavior. We will also examine the biological basis of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer¹s disease, associated with the brain¹s aging process. The basis for our learning will be the formation of questions, discussions and review of the current literature, and field experiences with aging populations. [W]
Prerequisite is one of the following: BIOL 212, BIOL 255, BIOL 256, or permission of the instructor.

BIOL 312 Cell Biology

This course covers structure, function and chemistry of cells, organelles, and membranes. Specific topics include cellular energetics, information flow in cells, cytoskeletal structure and functions, signal transduction mechanisms and cellular aspects of the immune response, and cancer. Students read selected topics of current importance in cell biology and present oral and written reports. Lecture/seminar/discussion/ computer simulation.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 and permission of instructor.

BIOL 314 Anatomy of Vision

An exploration of the conceptual approaches and modern experimental techniques used in functional morphology. Through a combination of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and biophysics, students explore the functional and evolutionary bases of vision in vertebrate animals. Practicum provides students an opportunity to critique primary literature and develop projects.
Prerequisites: BIOL 213, or 214, or NEUR 201 or permission of instructor.

BIOL 317 Physiology of Extreme Animals

In this class, we will explore the specialized physiological processes animals have developed to meet environmental challenges, including being tolerant to drought, heat, low oxygen levels, freezing, and lack of food. After examining general physiological adaptations, we will use case studies from “extreme” animals for further exploration. Along with minimal lecturing, we will synthesize the primary literature while developing skills essential to professional scientists, including communicating science, constructing research proposals, and defending opinions orally.
Prerequisite: BIOL 251.

BIOL 332 Advanced Aquatic Ecology

Students develop advanced knowledge of freshwater ecosystems and ecological analysis. Laboratory and lecture are tightly integrated. Students develop a small-scale experimental model of a freshwater ecosystem, plus do individualized field-based investigations. Both oral and written presentation of findings are required. Examples of some topics include temporal change in biotic communities, nutrient cycling and biota, and predator impacts on ecosystem dynamics. Strong emphasis on ecological design/ analysis, identifying experimental variation, and self-directed learning. Lecture/seminar/ laboratory.
Prerequisite: BIOL 231, 234, or 272. Knowledge of statistics is highly recommended.

BIOL 336 Evolutionary Genetics

This course introduces students to topics in population genetics and molecular evolution, with particular emphasis on the experimental quantitation of genetic variation, molecular systematics, and the molecular evolution of genes. The main focus is to give students direct experience in the critical reading, evaluation, presentation, and discussion of primary literature in the field of evolutionary genetics.
Prerequisite: BIOL 235, BIOL 255, or CHEM 351.

BIOL 345 Infectious Disease

Extended exposure to immunology (following BIOL 245) covering various aspects of human pathogens and how the immune system handles them. Vaccines either in use, in trials, or under development are explored for each of the pathogens. Students read primary research articles and participate in discussions. Practicum provides hands-on opportunity to explore aspects of vaccine development. Lecture/practicum/discussion/seminar.
Prerequisite: BIOL 245.

BIOL 350 Genomics

This course focuses on particular aspects of the structure and function of genomes. Topics covered in Genomics include approaches to studying genomes, anatomies of eukaryotic nuclear and prokaryotic genomes, synthesis of the transcriptome and proteome, regulation of genome activity, how genomes replicate and evolve, and the evolutionary relationships between genomes as determined by molecular phylogenetics. Using primary research literature, students analyze a specific topic in depth and present their findings in oral and written reports.
Prerequisite: BIOL 255.

BIOL 356 Biomedical Informatics

This course focuses on using genomic information, statistics and computational methods to study the relation between genomic variations and diseases. Students will learn major biomedical informatics approaches in translating the fount of genomic information into promising actionable treatment options through lectures, journal discussions, and project presentations. Major topics include human genome, genomic variations, genome-wide association study (GWAS), cancer genomics, microarray technology, next generation sequencing, pharmacogenomics, and personalized medicine.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102, preferably BIOL 255 or 336, or permission of instructor.

BIOL 351-380 Special Topics

Dependent upon student and staff interests, one or more specialized areas of biology are examined.
Prerequisite: BIOL 101-102 and other courses, as specified by instructor.

BIOL 401-404 Independent Research

A limited number of juniors and seniors may conduct an in-depth investigation of a particular topic in biology under the supervision of a faculty mentor.  Hours by arrangement.
Prerequisite: Permission of faculty mentor and department head.

BIOL 490 Capstone in Biology

This capstone course for biology majors, is a culminating experience for seniors to integrate their learning. Students discuss how prior courses informed and altered their understanding of at least three of these five concepts: evolution; biological molecule structure and function; information flow, exchange, and storage; matter/energy pathways and transformations; and systems biology. In addition to metacognitive reflection, this course emphasizes higher-order thinking, communication skills, and societal problem-solving abilities through meaningful connections among different courses.
Prerequisite: Open only to biology majors with senior standing.

BIOL 495-496 Thesis

Majors with strong academic records and research potential are invited to become candidates for departmental honors toward the end of the first semester of their junior year. The courses consist of an original laboratory investigation and culminate in a thesis submitted at the end of the senior year and defended before the department staff and guests they may invite. Hours by arrangement. [one W credit only upon completion of both 495 and 496].
Prerequisite: Permission of faculty mentor and department head.

Special Note:  Please be advised that a total of no more than 4 separate courses from among all research offerings (401 through 496) may count toward the biology major. Students receive credit for additional such courses toward the 32 required for their degree, but they will not count toward the major.